Category Archives: US House other

School Shootings – An American Tragedy

by Tom Buglio

In light of the recent horrific Parkland, Florida school shooting, once again Americans are faced with the stark reality of gun violence happening in a place that should be among the safest for our children: their schools. The shooting by a disturbed young man with an AR-15 is just the latest mass atrocity involving guns in school, as there have been 18 shootings this young year, and over 200 since Sandy Hook in 2012!

Nowhere else in the developed world is there this kind of carnage. What is to be done? Do we have to accept the need for making our schools into secured fortresses with metal detectors, and armed guards? Do we need to put more $ into identifying emotionally challenged children? Do we arm teachers and administrators, as we surely will hear calls for from the gun rights side. Should we ban the semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 which caused so much bloodshed in such a short amount of time in Newtown, Aurora, Parkland and Las Vegas?

All of these ideas and more need consideration, but more than that, they need ACTION! How can any responsible school teacher or administrator not think about the next school shooting, which is surely coming.

Many school districts have spent a vast amount of time and $ fortifying their schools, as communicated by Dr. Scanlon, Superintendent of West Chester Area Schools in a recent news article. It is truly impressive, and disturbing what schools have to do to create a sense of security today. Parkland School practiced many of the same safety measures, including a drill on the same day of the shooting, to no avail.

I submit that, while we need to do everything we can with our schools to protect children, the crux of the problem is that we live in a society where it is too easy to get a gun. And the reality is that with the current makeup of Congress, nothing at a national level will change. For those politicians who feel it is more important to protect gun rights and the 2nd amendment than it is their children and grandchildren, or to protect their current status collecting money from the NRA, shame on them!

Real change will happen when we give these politicians the boot, and vote into power courageous legislators unafraid of the NRA, willing to plug the many gaps in our system that enabled a troubled young man to fantasize about becoming a famous school shooter, acquiring an arsenal of deadly weapons, and then making his fantasy into a terrible reality.

The aftermath of Parkland is depressingly familiar, as we see the agony and grief of families trying to make sense of the senseless. But it feels different: there is a wave of anger in the survivors and families of the victims that is palpable, demanding their government do something NOW!

If we want to truly make progressive change in terms of reducing gun violence, we all need to get angry and hold onto this anger through the next election. Make sure you vote, and that the person who gets your vote will protect our children, and not the gun industry. For only when we have elected officials truly committed to gun safety will we see real change.

US Congress: Republicans rush for the exits to imperil Trump’s midterm hopes

by Alan Yuhas, The Guardian, 2/1/18

Dozens of Republicans are rushing for the exits on Capitol Hill in an exodus which has dramatically raised Democratic hopes of shifting the balance of power in Washington DC.

Congressman Trey Gowdy, the Republican who made headlines with a crusade to investigate Hillary Clinton, announced his retirement on Wednesday, becoming the 38th Republican to announce they would be giving up their seat in Congress since Donald Trump’s inauguration last year.

Gowdy and other Republicans cheered the president on during his state of the union address, chanting “USA” and standing to applaud his agenda.

But many of the same lawmakers have said they have had enough of Washington and the chaos in the White House, gridlock at work and angry voters back home.

Midterm elections in November give Democrats a strong chance of winning the 24 seats they need to seize back the House and jeopardizing the president’s agenda….

keep reading at The Guardian. on a local one of the 38, see “Meehan is out after this year.”

Pennsylvania Congressional Redraw

by Amanda Holt, 25 Jan 2018. [Amanda Holt was the hero of the redistricting controversy after the 2010 census, and in the first legal challenge the PA Supreme Court specifically cited her proposal as proof that the General Assembly could have done better to respect the PA constitution in redistricting the PA Senate and House. Now comes the next round: US Congress. Her proposal below puts all of Delaware County in district 7 but splits Chester County between the 6th (with all of Berks County) and 16th (with all of Lancaster County, thus fairly close to the current boundaries). Theoretically Chester County, which comprises about 5/7 of the population of one district, could be entirely in the 6th with a slice of Berks or Lancaster; but certainly being split between 2 districts is better than 3, and combining with one other county is better than with 3. If legislators say they don’t have time to complete their map by the Feb. 9 deadline, all the Court will need to do is refer them to the map that Amanda produced in a few days. The power of the motivated citizen!]

6 years ago today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the State Senate and House districts were unconstitutional based on the evidence presented in my case. Just 2 days ago, this same court declared another legislative map unconstitutional — the map configuring congressional districts.

The court order gives the main point of their decision: Section 16 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (which protects county, municipal, and ward boundaries when forming districts) also applies to congressional districts.

What would it look like if a congressional map did not divide any municipalities? I asked myself this question and came up with the following answer.

These districts would afford equal representation through impartially drawn districts, unlike the ones currently in place.

keep reading Amanda Holt for explanation of the constitutional advantages of her proposal. For background search Amanda Holt in our site’s right sidebar and see especially “Allentown woman shows Harrisburg how to make a legislative map” by Amy Worden, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 27, 2012.

Yes, women are stepping up!

In Chester County’s 3 congressional districts, 5 women are running for the nomination in the May 15 Dem primary (also 5 men, so that’s nicely balanced) in the largest state that has NOT A SINGLE WOMAN in its congressional delegation. Wouldn’t it be nice if the count stood at 9 women and 9 men before long? (Also 3 women and 3 men are running for Lieutenant Governor.)

Now the national press has featured women candidates including Chester County’s Chrissy Houlahan, running in PA-06, in this excerpt from “A Year Ago, They Marched. Now a Record Number of Women Are Running for Office,” by Charlotte Alter, Time magazine, 1/18/18 (Chrissy is shown 2nd from left, 2nd from bottom):

…Like all political transformations, this one sprang from dozens of small private choices. For years, the hardest thing about getting women elected has been getting women to decide to run. But sometime over the past year, while lying awake at night or comforting a crying friend or in hushed conversations with their spouse, each of these women came to the same conclusion. They could no longer pin their hopes on icons like Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren to represent half the American population. Instead, they would step up and do it themselves. “I always thought this was for other people, and I was not qualified,” says Chrissy Houlahan, an Air Force veteran and business executive who is running to represent Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District, where the incumbent Republican won by 14 points in 2016 but Clinton won narrowly. “There was this wake-up call of, Why not me?”

See also New York Magazine, 1/22/18 issue: “The Other Women’s March on Washington: What’s the fastest way to fix a broken system? Take it over, say the record number of female candidates running for office in 2018 for the first time” by Rebecca Traister, The Cut, 1/19/18.